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Reading Lesson Idea: Real-Life Reading Materials


Give a reading and comprehension lesson based on some real-life reading materials.


Search the newspaper, your house, a brochure rack, the web, etc. or ask your student to bring something from home. Here are some ideas:

  • A business letter. Here are some examples from the web.
  • A political cartoon. Here are some examples from the web.
  • A road map or atlas.
  • An insert from a medication package.
  • A recipe from a cookbook.
  • An informational brochure.
  • A piece of junk mail.
  • First discuss the source of the piece, who it is intended for, and its purpose.
  • Have your student read the piece aloud from beginning to end. If it is long, break it up into sections, and treat each section separately.
  • Identify unfamiliar words, guess their meanings from the context and check them in a dictionary.
  • Analyze the structure of the piece, and how each part contributes to the whole (eg. for a recipe: description, ingredients and directions, for a map: title, legend, scale and colors, for a brochure or advertisement: introduction, details, selling point or conclusion, for a letter: headings, salutation, body, closing.
  • Relate the main idea or ideas pulled from the piece to your initial assessment of its purpose.
  • Ask your student for his opinion of the piece: Does it achieve its purpose? Is it convincing? Is it easy to understand? Emphasize that some real-life pieces can be unsuccessful, or so poorly written that all readers would have difficulty with them.
  • Re-read the piece and others like it “through the eyes of a writer,” noting what writing techniques have been used and how they serve the purpose of the piece.
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